Fresh new name, star player signings, champion coach
The Illawarra Hawks are ready to soar high again. It was a tumultuous 2014 season filled with financial troubles, but things may be looking up. After finishing at the bottom of the ladder with only 6 wins and 22 losses, the Hawks have rebranded their name, overhauled their roster and added a high-profile head coach.
In March, the Hawks were forced to go into voluntary administration with a deficit up to $1.8 million over the next three years. This was followed by the news that long-serving coaching icon Geordie McLeod was leaving the club. It was a major blow for the besieged franchise.
Money has been a major struggle for the NBL’s remaining foundational club, but after coming up with a positive resolution with their creditors and staff, the Hawks were able to start up a new entity and start afresh.
Once the new entity was in place, management came up with a name change, reverting back to its original name seventeen years ago of Illawarra Hawks. It was a reflection of the club’s coverage of a greater region outside of Wollongong and a clever strategy to attract more fans with a fresh new brand.
The departure of McLeod saw the arrival of successful coach Rob Beveridge. It was a masterstroke to add the Beveridge and the timing couldn’t be any more perfect. He not only brings a winning pedigree, he has competitive fire, a genuine talent developer and has the profile to bring in quality free agents to the struggling club.
Beveridge has been here before, when he once coached the beleaguered West Sydney Razorbacks that faced financial instability. Everything has to start from scratch.
“This is a new challenge for us. We want to put on the most exciting team on the floor. We want to have fun and light up the scoreboard. We want to rattle the cage and play hard,” said Beveridge after a quick phone conversation.
Beveridge’s signing has already paid dividends for the Hawks, with the club managing to secure the services of former Sydney Kings superstar centre AJ Ogilvy and former MVP players Kirk Penney and Kevin Lisch. Two former Kings players, Cody Ellis and Kevin White, have been added to returning Hawks Tim Coenraad, Rhys Martin, Tyson Demos, Larry Davidson and team captain Oscar Forman.
The Illawarra starting five would likely be Ogilvy at the centre slot, Martin and Lisch in the backcourt, with Penney as a swingman and Forman at the power forward spot.
In a blink of an eye, the Illawarra Hawks have completed a major overhaul, from a financially strapped ball club and cellar dwellers into a playoff aspirant. They have a solid starting unit, a deeper roster and a champion coach who will bring out the best out of his players.
The Illawarra Hawks had their wings clipped, but now they’re ready to fly again. Call it survival of the fittest, but when you hit rock bottom the only way is up. They are most certainly moving in the right direction. It’s a brand new day for the Hawks.
COACHES: Rob Beveridge (Head Coach), Matt Flinn, Eric Cooks
LOSSES: Geordie McLeod, Gary Ervin, Jahii Carson, Adam Ballinger, Dominique Cooks, Brad Hill, David Gruber, Luke Nevill
GAINS: Rob Beveridge, A.J. Ogilvy, Kirk Penney, Kevin Lisch (import), Cody Ellis, Kevin White
RETURNING: Oscar Forman, Tim Coenraad, Rhys Martin, Tyson Demos, Larry Davidson, Luke Jamieson (development player)